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Owl spotting hits a high in Greater Victoria with amazing images

Winter Wonderland draws an unexpected visitor in Victoria’s Centennial Square. Ken Lee photo

Barred owls are out and about in abundance this fall and, with cameras in nearly every pocket, Greater Victorians are capturing them in some scenic settings.

The barred owl has dominated the region in owl sightings in recent generations, with the first recorded on the Island in 1969.

They’re the ones most people are familiar with. They’re a large owl, easy to see – you don’t need binoculars – and they’ll hang out anywhere, from a forested area outside of town to the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

An owl monitors traffic from a stop sign in Sooke. Randi Page photo

“They’re basically in every small park and neighbourhood in Victoria. We don’t have a real good estimate on how many there are,” said Ann Nightingale, of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory.

The RPBO does a saw-whet owl banding program and occasionally catches a barred owl in the process. This year more than 20 were counted through that process.

“So they’re around in good numbers for something that was barely here 50 years ago,” Nightingale said.


While the saw-whet is easily the most abundant owl in the region – particularly as they head south each autumn – the barred is the most visible.

RPBO is currently seeking funding to do a tracking project on barred owls to answer some of the questions about numbers, territorial range and other behaviours.

This barred owl hung out on a Brentwood Bay lawn so long the residents called Wild ARC for advice. They were told it was typical after they’ve had a large meal to sit and digest it. Martina Redman photo
This great horned owl spent time in the photographer’s Sooke lot in August. Roland Alcock photo
One Victoria owl likes to hang out near this Fairfield fig tree. Kirk Smith photo
A handsome owl snapped Sept. 15 chilling on a tree on Vantreight Road. Pauline Truong photo

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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